Despite the feeling that using bath salts to treat or even cure is a New Age type of alternative healing, the use and idea of sea salts in treating the human body goes back thousands of years. Healing affects of salts have been used in medicine and therapy going back to Ancient Egyptians, Greeks and Romans for treating anything from wounds to intestinal problems. Soaking in baths with therapeutic salts absorb compounds and minerals through the skin and modern day studies have shown them to have beneficial results in fighting and easing the effects of ailments such as rheumatism, psoriasis, arthritis, and eczema. Thus people have been using salt bath therapy years before scientific studies could explain what these diseases even were. Mainstream and recreational uses of bath salts are mainly to provide relief from muscle aches, joint soreness, and stress in combination with aromatherapy.
The two main therapeutic salts that have these effects on the body are Epsom salts and Dead Sea salts. The reasons for the effects are the compositions of the salts. Unlike sodium chloride salts, Epsom salt is made of magnesium sulphate, which promotes the removal of acid through the skin and alleviate pains and muscle soreness. Dead Sea salts are even more complex as they contain sodium chloride, magnesium chloride, potassium chloride (the most abundant), calcium chloride, and bromides. The healing effects of the Dead Sea have been linked to the effects of these compounds on the body which would explain why the Dead Sea has been said to have healing properties throughout history.
A good bath salts mixture will never include a high amount of sodium chloride since the effects can be potentially negative on the body. Using a bath salt with a high concentration of sodium chloride can dry out the skin as well as be potentially harmful for those with high blood pressure. Bath salts are meant to replenish the skin through minerals and therefore you should discontinue use if a bath salt mixture irritates or dries out the skin. A good way to know what goes into a bath salt mixture is to make your own. Making bath salts is an easy way to know you are using the correct ingredients in your bath as well as give you options in scent, color, and price.
Common Bath Salts Ingredients:
1 part Baking Soda (a natural softener)
2 parts Epsom salts
6-10 drops essential oils (more or less, depending on desired strength)
food coloring if desired (useful when jarring many different scents)
Dead Sea Salts Ingredients:
1 cup Dead Sea salts
1 teaspoon essential oils (modified to desired strength)
food coloring if desired
It is best to mix these ahead of time in a large bowl that can be covered. Dry ingredients should be mixed first by hand then liquid ingredients poured in gently into center of the dry. A lidded bowl is useful in the mixing of the dry with wet as you can shake with vigor to evenly distribute without making a mess. Beware the cloud that comes up while shaking which is best left to settle after mixing. These bath salts can be mixed in both small amounts and large amounts, and are best stored in glass containers which do not leak air in so as to preserve the salts. Essential oils have their own aromatherapy benefits and can be chosen based upon their effects. Making bath salts on your own can be a lot less expensive than buying specialized designer salts and can be mixed in many different combinations. All these ingredients can be found in health food stores and most pharmacies carry Epsom salts and essential oils.
The salts can also be bought in forms of simple rock salts, body scrubs, and masques. The average bath should contain between two tablespoons and one half of a cup of the mixture dissolved into warm water. Always read ingredients carefully before buying a salt to ensure you are buying what you need. Most Dead Sea salts will be packed in either the countries of Israel or Jordan and should be vacuum sealed. Reading up on aromatherapy and therapeutic oils is also a good way of choosing an essential oil. People with open wounds should take care when bathing. Those with serious ailments should consult a physician on using bath salts as therapy as they require very high and precise concentrations.